Recipe: Spaghetti and ‘Neatballs’

Spaghetti and meat balls

When I was little, I saw Lady and the Tramp and fell in love with spaghetti and meatballs. Flash-forward to my teenage self learning the ropes of a meat-free life, and you can bet that mastering a perfect vegan version of this classic dish was high on my priority list.

I’ve made this dish for friends in the Philippines, China, South Korea, Brazil, and the U.S.—and it has always been a hit with everyone who ate it. Here’s my tested and true recipe for my favorite meal ever!

Spaghetti and “Neatballs”

For the Pomodoro Sauce:
8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp. dried basil
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1,000 g. tomato purée
1 tsp. salt

  • In a large pot, sauté the garlic and tomatoes in the olive oil. Add the basil and oregano and cook for 5 minutes, or until the garlic is slightly golden.
  • Add the tomato purée and salt and stir.
  • Cook on medium-low heat for 1 to 2 hours.

For the “Neatballs”:
2 cups textured vegetable protein (TVP) or textured soy protein (TSP) granules
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
Water, for soaking
6–8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion, minced
2 Tbsp. dried basil
2 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/4–1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
Olive oil, for coating the baking sheet

  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
  • In a bowl, mix together the TVP, soy sauce, and enough water to dampen the TVP. Let soak for 5 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, onion, basil, oregano, parsley, and tahini and mix well.
  • Stir in the flour gradually while mixing with your hands until you can form the mixture into balls that hold their shape.
  • Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet.
  • Form balls from the mixture and place on the baking sheet.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then flip. Continue baking for additional 15 minutes, or until slightly crispy on the outside.

For the Cashew Parmesan:
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Pinch salt

  • Blend all the ingredients in a blender until the desired coarseness is reached.

To Assemble:
700 g. pasta of your choice

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Top with the Pomodoro Sauce and “Neatballs” and sprinkle with the Cashew Parmesan. (Feel free to put your own spin on this classic dish—add a little spice or some more veggies, and share your ideas below!)

Makes approximately 6 servings

Posted by Edwina Baier